If you’re a fan of playing video games and meeting new people, streaming is a fantastic activity to get in on, but it’s also fairly technical. It’s not just about having the latest consoles or PC gear, either. The most successful streams offer crisp audio, dynamic lighting and clear video, on top of smooth gameplay and a steady drip of irresistible charm (though, that last one isn’t for sale at any store). YouTube and Twitch streamers have specific, high-tech needs, and you don’t have to look far to find a gadget that’ll make playing games on these platforms easier — or even just a little more colorful. Here’s some of our favorite gear for going live with a good game and a few (hundred? thousand?) friends.
Blue Yeti USB microphone
Logitech for Creators
It’s a classic for a reason. The Yeti microphone by Blue is reliable and easy-to-use, and it’s been a staple of the podcasting and streaming industries for years. A simple USB connection powers broadcast-quality sound capture, and the Yeti has a cardioid setting, which is designed to dampen background noise and pick up just one speaker at a time. It comes in blackout, silver and midnight blue colors, and at just over $100, Blue’s Yeti is a go-to piece of equipment for any streamer.
$110 at Amazon$130 at Logitech$135 at Quill.com
This is the microphone to get for the streamer who’s all about aesthetics and details. The BEACN is a USB-C mic that offers professional-level sound in a clean and attractive package. It’s a dynamic microphone that offers precise noise cancellation and comes with streamlined, user-friendly software. The BEACN is available in white and black, and each model has a customizable RBG light strip around the middle. It’s quietly flashy, dependable, and a fantastic top-of-the-line option for streamers.
$279 at Amazon
Headphones and headsets
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and ATH-M50xSTS
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x headphones are known for their durability, warm sound and comfort. The ATH-M50x serves as the modern blueprint for long-lasting headphones and Audio-Technica has perfected this model over the years. The ATH-M50x headphones have a closed-back design, 45mm large-aperture drivers with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, and plush over-the-ear pads. They fold up, they look great, and they can comfortably withstand hours-long streaming sessions.
If you’re looking for a headphone-microphone combo, there’s the ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet, Audio-Technica’s new headset built specifically for streamers. It essentially adds a cardioid condenser mic to the ATH-M50x, and it comes in XLR and USB models.
$149 at Amazon
Photo by Billy Steele / Engadget
Wireless headphones work wonderfully for a variety of games, specifically ones that rely more on worldbuilding and narrative than audio position cues. Plus, Bluetooth headphones are generally less cumbersome than wired ones, and they don’t get much sleeker than Sony’s WH-1000XM5. These are some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market and they’re fantastic for everyday use as well as long gaming sessions. The WH-1000XM5 headphones are incredibly lightweight, with cushy over-the-ear pads and up to 40 hours of battery life, making them great for marathon streams. They have a built-in microphone that functions well for phone calls, but streamers should still use an external mic for the best possible sound.
$398 at Amazon$125 at Woot$350 at Groupon
Logitech C922 Pro HD Stream Webcam
As a streamer, sometimes you just want a camera that is definitely going to work — and that’s Logitech’s C922 Pro Stream Webcam. This is a camera that most streamers will use at least once in their career, considering it costs less than $100 and outputs clear video at 720p and 60 fps, or 1080p and 30 fps. The C922 has a 78-degree field of view, HD autofocus and light correction, and even a built-in microphone that’ll save the day if your external setup fails.
$64 at Amazon
The Elgato Facecam was designed with streamers and content creators in mind. It’s a dead simple plug-and-play device that provides clear, bright video at 1080p and 60 fps. The Facecam has an 82-degree field of view, a focal length of 24mm, and a professional-grade lens, plus it outputs uncompressed video that tends to look exquisite. It also has onboard flash memory, saving your settings directly to the camera and making it simple to swap devices. What more could you ask for?
$130 at Amazon$130 at Best Buy$140 at Adorama
Logitech Litra Glow
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget
The Litra Glow from Logitech is a small but mighty piece of equipment, and at $60, it doesn’t break the bank. The Litra Glow is a square about the size of an Apple TV box, and it’s designed to clip onto the top of a monitor and pump out the kind of clean, even illumination that makes streamers look good. It has a color temperature range of 2700-6500K (warm white to very cool white), which is comparable to more expensive devices like the Razer Key Light Chroma.
$60 at Amazon$50 at Staples$60 at B&H Photo
Razer Key Light Chroma
If you’re going to do something, do it right. The Key Light Chroma from Razer is a top-tier key light that feels infinitely customizable and seamlessly blends into most workspaces, thanks to an included desk mount. Razer’s Key Light offers a color temperature range of 3000-7000K and it takes advantage of the company’s Chroma RGB ecosystem, which allows users to make fine adjustments via a PC or mobile app. Good lighting changes everything, and the Key Light Chroma is one of the best.
$240 at Amazon$253 at Best Buy$300 at Adorama
Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus
Once the lighting basics are set, it’s time to have some fun. Lightstrips are an easy and effective way to set the tone for a stream, and the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus has everything you need to make the mood right. The kit comes with 80 inches of customizable, cuttable, dimmable LED lights in a silicone strip, and it’s all controllable in the Hue app via a Bluetooth connection. Coming from Philips Hue, a leader in smart home lighting, the Lightstrip Plus is a dependable option that’ll retain its functionality for a long time.
$66 at Amazon$100 at Target$100 at Abt Electronics
Elgato Stream Deck MK.2
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget
Elgato’s Stream Deck MK.2 is the standard when it comes to stream decks. The MK.2 is a hub of 15 LCD hotkeys that can be customized to simplify the streaming process. One button press can launch a program or control connected accessories, allowing streamers to quickly mute a mic, adjust lighting, activate audio reactions or trigger on-screen effects, for a few examples. It’s great for non-gaming activities, too — the buttons can be programmed as shortcuts for unique phrases and tools in typing, programming, formatting and media editing. The keys also feel really cool to press.
$130 at Amazon$149 at Best Buy$150 at B&H Photo
8bitdo Ultimate Controller
It’s just a fact — everyone loves an 8bitdo gadget. The Ultimate Controller is the perfect accessory for any streamer or video game fan (even Steam Deck lovers, since it’s compatible with that, too). The 8bitdo Ultimate Controller connects via Bluetooth to Windows, Switch and SteamOS, and it’s a fantastic gamepad with all the standard trappings, plus a custom profile switch, two back paddle buttons and motion control on Switch. It’s a customizable, handheld piece of joy.
$70 at Amazon$70 at Best Buy
Elgato HD60X capture card
A capture card is the best way to ensure smooth, stutter-free streams. The HD60X from Elgato records gameplay at up to 1080p and 60 fps, with passthrough at up to 4K and 60 fps, which is basically everything you need from an external capture card. The HD60X is particularly great for capturing gameplay on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5, but it’ll work with a dual-PC setup as well. This is professional-level streaming with a plug-and-play interface.
$159 at Amazon$150 at Best Buy$180 at Adorama